This article examines the temporality of interlinear translation through a case study of the rendering of Friedrich Hölderlin’s poetry into Persian. We argue that, in its adherence to the word order of the original, the interlinear crib prioritizes the temporality of the instant (kairos) over the temporality of the linear sequence (chronos). Kairos is made manifest in the literalist translations of Hölderlin by the modernist Iranian translator-poet Bijan Elahi (d. 2010). This inquiry advances our understanding of the role of syntax in constituting literary form and in shaping translation, and exposes the contingency of the translator’s decisions in every given literary juncture.
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